Medicine in the News in November


Exposure to airborne particulate matter from fires in California to plague in Madagascar: here are quiz questions about medical matters that have made world headlines.


Question 1 (for the answer, please go to the next page)


The correct answer is D. All of the above. 30%

According to a recent review, exposure to airborne particulate matter released by forest fires may exacerbate respiratory problems, like asthma.  Studies in the US have also suggested that exposure to wildfire smoke is linked to increased hospital admissions for cardiac arrest or chest pain.  Though research is inconsistent, wildfires have also been linked to diarrhea, presumably related to power outages and lack of proper refrigeration.



Question 2. (for the answer, please go to the next page)

In October 2017 the FDA issued a warning to parents and caregivers not to use sleep positioners with babies due to the risk of suffocation. The FDA also made several other recommendations for safe sleep in babies.


The correct answer is B. Securly wrap babies in blankets

Sleep positioners, aka “nests” or anti-roll” products are designed to keep infants in a specific position during sleep. However, the FDA has warned that such devices can cause suffocation and lead to death.  The FDA advises following the ABCs of safe sleep: Alone on the Back in a bare Crib. Pillows, blankets, loose sheets, comforters or quilts should not be used in cribs. Likewise, toys and soft objects should be kept out of sleeping areas. To keep warm, additional clothing rather than blankets should be used.


Question 3. (for the answer, please go to the next page)


The correct answer is A. Inherited retinal dystrophy

On October 12 2017, a panel of experts voted unanimously to endorse Luxturna, an injectable medication developed to treat a rare form of childhood retinal dystrophy caused by mutation to the RPE65 gene. If approved, Luxturna will be the first FDA-approved gene therapy for blindness. The FDA is not required to follow the advice of its advisors, but generally does.



Question 4. (for the answer, please go to the next page)


The correct answer is A. India

In August 2017, an outbreak of pneumonic plague began in Madagascar.  Plague is endemic to Madagascar, which experiences about 400 cases of bubonic plague each year. However, the current outbreak concerns the more deadly pneumonic form of the disease, which is airborne and can spread rapidly from person to person. The current outbreak is occurring in heavily populated areas, including the capital Antananarivo and surrounding suburbs.  Between August 23 to October 11, WHO reported 501 cases of plague in Madagascar, with a death rate of 11%. The New York Times reported that the outbreak spread to the neighboring Seychelles. WHO has scaled up response to the outbreak by providing 1.2 million doses of antibiotics, and releasing $1.5 million in emergency funds. WHO is appealing for $5.5 million more to fight the outbreak. The 3 most highly endemic countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Peru.

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